05.11.2009 - 08.11.2009 20 °C
This was actually one of the first photos I took after arriving in Tokyo, I just forgot to upload it. I took it from the viewing platform on the 45th floor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. I didn't see a single star the whole time I was in Tokyo, even on "sunny" days, the city is covered by a heavy haze.
After the first few days in Tokyo which I mostly spent sight seeing, the last few were more about visiting the popular night spots.
Friday night I went to Rappongi with a couple of guys from Chicago, Andrew who was staying in the same hostel and Aaron his friend who has been in Tokyo for a couple of months. I would describe Rappongi as the seedier area in Tokyo, full of loud and obnoxious foreigners and smut peddlers trying to hustle you into their strip/massage clubs (the latter guys all seem to be from the African continent so they are relatively easy to spot). We found a bar called Gaspanic without a cover charge, the only catch being you had to constantly have a drink in your hand - needless to say I nursed my drinks that night. It was an ok night mostly due to the locals we met and talk to, but I wouldn't recommend visiting this area if you want a true Japanese experience, go to Shinjuku or Shibuya instead, otherwise save yourself the airfares and just go to your local meat market clubs instead.
Gaspanic night club, Rappongi, Tokyo.
On my last night in Tokyo I was determined to go to Womb, a night club in Shibuya I had read about that's known for having the largest mirror ball in Japan, but what interested me more was that they host Drum & Bass gigs once in a while and I wanted to experience one Japanese styles. I was extremely pleased to discover they were hosting a big Drum & Bass event that very night. I had no problems persuading Ian (another guy from Sydney I met in the hostel) to come along. This guy was up for a party every night so it wasn't difficult. He didn't even hesitate in paying the 4,000 Yen cover charge (that's NZ$60 - Yikes!).
Before heading out to Shibuya, Andrew (Chicago) and Roddy (UK) joined Ian and I for some food and a few beers in Akebonobashi near Shinjuku.
Roddy, Ian, Me and Andrew in small Japanese Restaurant near Akebonobashi Metro Station
The friendly Japanese woman who took the above photo also ordered our food for us. We didn't even ask for her help, she must have felt sorry for us when she realized we were completely lost staring at the menu written entirely in Japanese. We couldn't even decide by looking at the pictures whether the meaty looking stuff was beef, pork, chicken or salmon.
We finally arrived at Womb at around midnight, the place is hidden in a small alley a few blocks from the metro station so it was lucky I had written down some directions I found on the interweb.
What can I say, the local DJs were as good as I'd ever heard, especially AKi, and the visiting DJ "Red One" (Ram Records - UK) was awesome also. Even the Japanese MC was brilliant, in fact he was one of the best I'd ever heard - always smiling and never spoiling the beats with silly repetitive rhymes like the UK MCs tend to do. It was strictly no photos inside this place and this rule was swiftly enforced by the numerous bouncers circulating the peripherals of the dance area. It still didn't stop me sneaking a few clicks when they weren't looking. I was only snapped by one of them once but I just played the naiive and apologetic tourist card.
Wicked MC Getting the Crowd Going @ Womb
The place itself was great, quite classy with three levels, main dance area and some chill-out bars where you could just hang and have conversation. The club even had coin lockers where you could put your things without the worry of them going walkabout. The laser show was also impressive and the sound system was far superior to anything Auckland has to offer.
Party People Ripping it up @ Womb, Shibuya, Tokyo (the more I look at this photo the more I like it)
We didn't get back to the hostel until 8am which wasn't ideal considering I had to check-out by 11am the same day. I have now decided if I want to make the distance on this marathon trip of mine, I have to take it easier for the next while otherwise I won't make it to the end.
After checking-out of the hostel, I took it easy while I made my way to the main Tokyo train station where I was catching a Shinkansen (bullet train) to Kyoto. If it wasn't for the friendly English speaking woman at the trains info desk, I would never have found my train platform because the station was a little confusing despite the English signage everywhere (China is going to be interesting in this regard).
So that was it for Tokyo, nine days of hectic train and metro rides, lots of sight seeing, being carried along by huge waves of people walking along a foot path (even though I wanted to turn right two blocks ago but couldn't). It's quite amazing how safe you feel in such a huge city, you don't even feel vulnerable in the metro at midnight. Everyone that I met in Tokyo was very friendly and they go out of their way to help you, going as far as asking the stranger next to them or personally escorting you two blocks to your intended destination. I was also lucky with the hostel I stayed in, the staff were friendly and helpful and the guys I met were good fun and down to earth.
Everyone conforms here, I am not exaggerating when I say that even at lonely one lane side streets with not a car in sight, people still wait patiently at the side of the road until the crossing light turns green. It sort of feels like everyone's scared to break even a simple rule in case it results in the complete collapse of their society. Still, I have to say I love Tokyo. I will be back one day that's for sure.
Next stop, Kyoto.